Monday, November 14, 2011

A Dorie Trifecta: Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken, Savory Cheese and Chive Bread, and Spiced Squash, Fennel and Pear Soup

This past week, I've continued to cook my way through Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Kitchen.  Though we had record high temps earlier in the week (which only makes sense after the worst snow storm the state has ever seen in October - right?), Thursday was a gray and blah sort of day.  The kind of day that required my most favorite dish ever - roast chicken.

Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken

(For the record, the best restaurant-made roast chicken - EVER - is made by Hamersley's Bistro on Tremont Street in Boston.  I'm talking last-meal-on-Earth good.)

Now my go-to roast chicken dish has always been Ina's roast chicken from her original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  It never steers me wrong, and is super easy to make.  But, as Ina, herself, endorses Dorie's book, I figured I could stray just this once.  Especially when the recipe calls for a unique dough seal that traps steam in order to cook the chicken.

Doesn't exactly look like the cover of Dorie's book, but it's close!

I will most definitely make this recipe again (sorry, Ina!) as it was absolutely delicious.  The chicken was perfectly moist, chock full of flavor (most likely due to the four heads of garlic), and the best part was dipping the dough (the recipe says that you can make your own out of flour and water, or to avoid a mess and to save time - two options I prefer - you can use pizza dough) into the garlicky broth that is at the bottom of the pot.

The other pretty cool thing was that, again, as recommended by the recipe, you need a screwdriver to open the pot when it first comes out of the oven.  And as soon as the lid is lifted -- poof!  A fantastic aroma fills the air, and you catch a glimpse of the perfectly cooked chicken.

Savory Cheese and Chive Bread

Sunday afternoon I was in the mood for soup, but also wanted something a bit more substantial to pair with it.  As a lover of savory breads, as well as anything that includes cheese, this bread was right up my alley.

A mix of cheddar and gruyere

It was super easy to make, quick, and very tasty.  (I used scallions instead of chives, by the way.)

Spiced Squash, Fennel and Pear Soup

Having recently made Ina's Butternut Squash and Apple soup, and feeling a bit disappointed over it (it just was too similar to pureed baby food for me, and also lacked a bit of taste), I was skeptical that I would like this soup, but as it's still autumn, and I love butternut squash, I figured I'd give it a try.

Spanish onion, celery, scallions, fennel and garlic

Butternut squash

Love my immersion blender!

The finished product - drizzled with meyer lemon juice and garnished with creme fraiche and pepitas.
I am now a butternut squash soup believer.  This soup had so much flavor, and yet despite the fennel and pear's presence in the title of the recipe, I barely tasted either ingredient.  What was most prominent was the hint of orange, as the recipe called for two small peels (which, of course, I forgot to photograph).  And yet it wasn't overwhelming.  While somewhat filling, in slightly smaller increments, this soup would be a fabulous first course for Thanksgiving dinner!

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